Schmid, Christoph von
SCHMID, CHRISTOPH VON
Educator and a leader in the modern reform of catechetical methods; b. Dinkelsbühl, Bavaria, Aug. 15, 1768; d. Augsburg, Sept. 3, 1854. After studying theology at Dillingen he was ordained in 1791 and served as assistant in several parishes until 1796, when he became the head of a large school in Thannhausen on the Mindel. During this time he also taught pedagogy and aesthetics at Dillingen, served as a school inspector for the district of Mindel, and generally played an important role in the reform of the Bavarian education system. He was pastor at Oberstadion in Württemberg from 1816 until 1826, when he was appointed a canon of the Augsburg cathedral. In 1841 he began to publish his scattered writings in an edition that, when completed, amounted to 24 volumes. A number of these works were eventually translated not only into most European languages, but also into such mid-Oriental and Oriental languages as Arabian, Turkish, Japanese, and Chinese.
Schmid had long recognized that the clergy in their sermons, instructions, and counsels had been gradually losing contact with the laity. From the beginning of his Thannhausen assignment, he began to apply the pedagogical ideas of J. M. sailer by using fables, stories, and legends in the catechetical instruction of the children under his care. In his desire to free sacred history from the abstractions that made it difficult for children to grasp, he produced in 1801 the first Bible history as a simplified account of the history of salvation illustrated by sketches and paintings. He wrote in simple language and used examples that appealed to the minds and the hearts of the young. Although this Bible history, as well as the collections of fables, stories, and legends, may be of little use today, Schmid's position in the development of catechetics, and, more generally, of child education, is a very important one, acknowledged by Catholics and Protestants alike. For his own time, he helped to stem the spread of idealism in the German universities by providing a more or less completely rounded foundation for the development of faith among the persons who came under his influence; and his reassertion of the importance of fables, stories, and legends in the education of children was a noteworthy contribution to the improvement of catechetical methods.
Bibliography: r. adamski, Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche 2 9:432–433. e. reinhard, Lexikon der Pädagogik 4:15–16. f. eckert, Christoph von Schmid's Lebenserinnerungen, 2 v. (Saarlouis 1920).
[f. c. lehner]